Issaquah, Lake Washington schools receive WASL report cards

The Issaquah School District failed this year, but the situation is not quite as bad as it sounds, because the truth is, so did almost everybody else.

The Issaquah School District failed this year, but the situation is not quite as bad as it sounds, because the truth is, so did almost everybody else.

Each spring, students in districts across the state hunker down in their desks and, for several exhausting days, take test after test in an event known as the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL). The test scores are then used to measure the district’s progress.

The good news for the ISD is that students’ scores are up for the most part. Districtwide, scores went up in most categories for students who take the WASL, in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10.

“Our kids are achieving at higher levels than ever before,” District Spokeswoman Sara Niegowski said.

However, according to the federal government’s Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) benchmarks, the district failed. As did Bellevue, Lake Washington, Northshore, Renton and Snoqualmie.

The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction last week released the AYP results to school districts. District officials have several weeks to appeal any results if they so desire.

If any school fails to make AYP two years running, the federal government classifies them under the “Improvement” category, and that school then faces sanctions in the form of lost funding, if they are a Title 1 federally funded school. This year statewide 628 schools and 57 districts are listed under “Improvement” status. The Issaquah District was not listed as an “Improvement” school this year.

For districts to be listed as under “Improvement,” they must not have met AYP for two consecutive years for the same subject areas.

The AYP is a result of the No Child Left Behind Act, which itself is a byproduct of Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which was passed in 1965.

The goal is to have all students at 100 percent by 2014. To get everyone to that mark, AYP is a staircase guide for what percentage schools should be meeting at any given stage. Rather than a constant line upward, the staircase jumps up in percentage points, then plateaus for two years before jumping up again.

Part of the reason why so many schools have problems reaching the mark is that AYP counts every student, including special education and English as a second language students. This includes any student who has been in the country for more than 13 months and students with learning disabilities; they must take the same test as mainstream students.

“It’s a one-size-fits-all,” Chief Academic Officer Lynn Brogan said. “Every kid is expected to be in the same place at the same time. That’s all students. One size doesn’t fit all kids.”

Schools are measured in 37 “cells” or categories. These cells include reading, writing, math, science and participation. Categories are also broken up into special education, low income and ethnic groups. To pass AYP, a school must pass all of the cells. If there are not at least 30 students in that category, the cell is not counted. Previously it had been 40 students, however, legislators unexpectedly changed that law at the end of July.

A district has to pass 111 cells to meet AYP.

For the most part the Issaquah School District passed. However as a district, it did not pass in:

• Elementary special education reading

• Elementary special education math

• Elementary low income reading

• Middle school special education reading

• Middle school special education math

• Middle school Hispanic math

• Low income math.

Issaquah Valley Elementary School did not pass AYP in low income reading, although district officials are appealing that result.

Liberty High School did not pass AYP in special education reading, special education math or Asian participation, although the district is appealing the latter.

None of the four middle schools made AYP.

Beaver Lake Middle School and Pine Lake Middle School did not pass in special education reading or special education math. Issaquah Middle School did not pass in special education reading, special education math or low income math. Maywood Middle School did not meet AYP in the special education and low income math.

Tiger Mountain High School did not meet AYP for the second year in a row due to the graduation requirement cell, however Tiger Mountain is not an Title 1 school so there are no sanctions.

Statewide, only one district with 2,000 or more students met AYP this year. The more students, the more difficult it is to achieve AYP, Niegowski said.

Many of the largest schools have already gone into the “Improvement” stage. Of the 10 largest school districts in the state only Lake Washington and Puyallup are not entering “Improvement.”

Lake Washington, the sixth-largest district in the state, does have four schools that are entering “Improvement” this year. Only one, John Muir Elementary School, is Title 1 and thus faces consequences. The other schools, BEST High School, Kirkland Junior High and Kamiakin Junior High are on “Improvement” status but don’t have any consequences, similar to Tiger Mountain.

In Muir Elementary limited English students did not meet AYP in reading and math, and low income students did not meet AYP in math. Kirkland Junior High did not meet the target in special education for reading and math. BEST did not have enough students taking the WASL, so the school missed on the participation cell and Kamiakin Junior High did not meet AYP for special education students, Hispanic students and low income students for reading and math.

Lake Washington’s Community School is in step 3 of “Improvement” because too few students took the WASL. Parents at the choice school have stated that they don’t approve of standardized testing. However, the Community School does not receive Title 1 funding and does not face any consequences.

Speaking of all school districts, Sharon Manion, director of Assessment for ISD, said, “We’re not failing schools. … They are doing great things on a daily basis. We’re not making AYP, but we are not a failing school.”

For more information on AYP, visit or or Kyra Low can be reached at or 391-0363, ext. 5052.